Stemming the Torrent

Stemming the Torrent

by Gesa Stedman



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Stemming the Torrent by Gesa Stedman

In this new study, Gesa Stedman mines the vein of emotion in Victorian writing to unearth new insights into the ways literature responded to the dramatic social and political changes then taking place.

Through an examination of the history of key Victorian emotion words, the major topics that dominate the discourses on emotions in this era, and the central fictional and non-fictional "paradigm scenarios" which constitute these discourses, Stedman shows how slowly written representation of the "passions" changes in the 19th century. She argues that in texts about feelings, Victorian authors seem to attempt to delay or halt on a discursive level what can no longer be stopped on any other level of their culture and society.

Reading fictional texts alongside non-fictional works, this study highlights the tensions between the need of 19th-century writers to control "storms of passion" and their effects, and their need to express feelings. Contemporary research from various disciplines such as sociology, ethnology and history inform this study, which juxtaposes canonical material such as Dickens' Hard Times, Charlotte Bronte's Shirley and Germaine de Stael's Corinne with popular novels and non-fictional texts such as The Education of the Heart, by Sarah Ellis, and Darwin's On the Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. The analysis deals with emotions applying to both genders, but includes a special section examining the representation of emotion in relation to women.

Stemming the Torrent provides new insight into the literature of the period, and brings to light important new material for the scholars interested in the philosophy and psychology of emotions.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780754606437
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 07/01/2002
Pages: 266
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

List of Figuresvii
1My leaves cannot contayne in them the large discourse: Introduction1
2Emotion vocabularies: The History and Usage of Key Emotion Words25
3I could not speak the feeling: Emotions and the Body47
4The local moral order: Emotions and the Development of a Middle Class Habitus121
5Plot and Passion: Narrating the Heart171
6Modern Passion? Concluding Remarks229
AppendixBiographical Notes237
Select Bibliography251

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